0. The new beginning

Going to Sunway. I told myself when I won my Bursary on 20th March 2014 with my 10A+ in SPM. The following months until June saw the preliminary preparation as my mother made a checklist on what to bring there. “Buckets, clips, mini-drawer,…” she burbled. The arrangement on my part continued as I received instructions from MoE to submit the contracts and from the college for move-in details and several orientation programmes. It’s 27th June and my family had a farewell dinner for me, and hey, I’m in Sunway!

Zeno, Xue Heng (both Chung Ling guys), Chang Yu (a friend of Xue Heng from Baling) and I travelled southwards to Sunway Monash Residence for check-in the next day, but I sneaked in and out of the residence, back and forth, to alternate between attending final IMO training and important orientation in Sunway (that’s when I walked from Sunway Pyramid to where I stay, and explored the holy residence with its facilities like 7-11 and swimming pool). Off I went for the IMO fantasy until it ended on the 14th.

The real study life began on the 16th after joining the movie-watching bandwagon by Xue Heng on the 15th, a holiday.

A-levels, a program that daunted a lot of students that my father persuaded me to opt for low-hanging fruits like Australian/Canadian matriculation before I secured my Bursary. Some words from teachers and friends really substantiated these:
Zeno: “Go swim like crazy during orientation days. No more time for this when classes commence.”
Mr. Wong during a seminar: “You chose the challenge of A-Levels and not other courses in this college. Think of how much are you going to commit for yourself to excel.”
Mr. Leonard: “You poor souls struggling the A-Levels when others could form their own bands.”
My dad: “Stop dwelling on your glistening accomplishments in SPM and IMO. Get to your study right now.”

Indeed, we were always reminded to strive for the best: by our parents who asked us to manage time wisely and control any excessive outings; by our teachers who kept reiterating the importance of spending time on our academics after classes; by the MoE which insisted we shouldn’t get anything worse than a B to maintain our scholarship status; most importantly, by ourselves to aim for the handful of prestigious university offers to continue being sponsored abroad. What’s more when people around me were scholars of god-know-how-pro-they-were, often talking about their plans in succeeding these aims.

These weren’t the only challenge. In fact, another obstacle impending was adapting the new environment. This comprised the excitement of knowing and understanding new people and new cultures; the other part, however, was the difficult change stemming from the separation from my family for the first time, which prompted my household independence and academic self-discipline to another level.

Am I ready for this? “Yes,” I told myself as I walked to my first class on the 16th July, because I had to.

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